OVERVIEW

Marathi is the language spoken by the native people of Maharashtra, a state in west-central India, with Bombay (Mombai) as capital city.

ORIGIN

Three Prakrit languages emerged from Sanskrit: Saurseni, Magadhi and Maharashtri. Marathi is said to have descended from Maharashtri, the Prakrit language spoken by the people of Maharashtra.

It is clear that Marathi was in written use in the 11th Century, as stone inscriptions and the like can be found. One must assume that the language was being spoken by the people for centuries before this.

Marathi was the court language of the Yadava kings. HemADpanta, a minister in the court of the kings introduced a script for the language in the 13th century - this script was called 'moDI' and was in use until the 18th century. It had the advantage of allowing the letters to be joined together for faster writing speed. The script currently used is 'bALbodh' - a modified version of the Devanagari script. This is easier to read, but sacrifices the speed aspect.

ALPHABET
Vowels

There are two groups of vowels.
Group 1:  a  aa(A)  i  ii(I)  u  uu(U)  e  ai  o  au  aM  aH
Group 2:  R^i  R^I  L^i  L^I
R^I and L^I from group 2 are entirely extinct today and R^i and L^i are of very limited use.

Consonants

There are in total 36 consonants. The first 25 are split into 5 groups of 5. The groups are based on the pronunciation of the letters. The last letter in each group has a nasal sound.
Group 1:  k   kh   g  gh  N^
Group 2:  ch  chh  j  jh  JN
Group 3:  T   Th   D  Dh  N
Group 4:  t   th   d  dh  n
Group 5:  p   ph   b  bh  m
Letters in group 1 are pronounced from the throat, group 2 by touching the tongue to a part of the upper jaw between the roof and the teeth, group 3 by touching the tongue to the palate, group 4 touching the tongue to the teeth and group 5 by touching the lips together. An interesting note is that if the nose is blocked (by having a cold, for example), the fifth letter in each group is replaced by the third.

The remaining 11 consonants are:
      y  r  l  v  sh  shh  s  h  L  ksh  GY/Dnya
INFLUENCES

Todays Marathi has been changed over the years as influences from other languages start to take hold. The languages spoken in the neighbouring states of Kannad and Telugu have lent many words to Marathi which are now in common use.

Marathi has also absorbed words from the many languages spoken by the rulers of India over the years. Words of Turkish, Persian and Arabic origin can all be found as well as variants of words from Portuguese.

Obviously, lots of everyday words have been included from the British reign of India. Words such as rubber, pencil, cake and boot are examples.
Source: http://members.tripod.com/~marathi/marathi.html

Ma*ra"thi (?), Mah*rat"ta (?), n.

A Sanskritic language of western India, prob. descended from the Maharastri Prakrit, spoken by the Marathas and neighboring peoples. It has an abundant literature dating from the 13th century. It has a book alphabet nearly the same as Devanagari and a cursive script translation between the Devanagari and the Gujarati.

 

© Webster 1913.

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